Sean Ashby is one of Toronto’s most successful musicians, being a leading member for the band Jack Tripper and also as a long-time guitarist in Sarah McLachlan’s band. His new solo “Brass and Gold” is produced with help of Todd Fancey (member of The New Pornographers) and several others. The opening riff of “Dreamin” has the melodic riffs and guitar overdubs that remind one of Brian Ray playing the guitar with John Cougar Mellencamp doing the vocals. Stylistically, Sean jumps around from muscular rock of “This Machine” to gentle ballads (“Brass And Gold,” “Nova Girl”). But the big hooks here in “Star 98” and “Gone” are so thick, they beg to be played loud, with a cutting buzz saw sound like Heart’s “Barracuda”. The song “Baby Yes” takes the same style down a notch. Not all the ballads work for me (“All I Need” tries to be Coldplay a bit too much) but when they hit the mark, with “Paper Tiger” it’s like the second coming of Mark Oliver Everett. The album finale “Come to Me” evokes a Lou Reed ballad and fades out. This is a strong eclectic debut that would be welcome in your collection.